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The Diary of a Striving Muslimah

The scorching July sun shone on my skin as I walked through the old city of Nicosia, admiring the architectural details on the building, the pointed arches, carved building façades, historic monuments, the stained glass, window shutters…

I needed to get a bottle of chilled water for fear of passing out. I was so tired, dehydrated and hungry, and the weather wasn’t making it any better.

I spotted a small retail shop at the corner of the road. Alhamdulilah, I couldn’t wait to feel the drops of water pass down my throat. I hurriedly walked to the shop, picked up a bottle of water and a park of potato chips.

“Sorry, your card has reached its limit,” said the cashier.

Oh No! I opened my wallet to check for cash but there wasn’t any, except the 50 dollars which I had been saving up for charity. I was torn between yielding to my desire to satisfy my hunger and thirst and to save the 50 dollars for charity. It would take the next four hours before I got home; could I cope.

Khalas, I would just use it and save up again. I stretched my hand to give the cashier the money.

“Sorry but I can’t accept this money, it looks too old.” the cashier said.

It took a minute for me to register what she said. I dropped the items I picked on the counter. Disappointed by what happened, I rushed back to where my friends were chatting and sketching. I couldn’t wait to go back home, I felt very itchy and sticky. Gosh, I hated summers.

Time flew by and the buses had come to take us back home. As soon as the bus driver opened the doors, I rushed to enter. I was welcomed by the strong hot air in the bus. Ya Allah, not here too. The last thing I needed was to sit down for an hour in a hot bus.

I brought out my headphone and listened to the recitation of the Glorious Quran. I needed something to distract me from the heat, thirst and hunger I was feeling; something I could find solace in.

The soft, melodious recitation of Abdul Basit ‘Abd us-Samad resonated in my ears, distracting me from everything except the meaning of the verses he recited. An hour in the hot oven and I was finally at home.

“Alhamdulilah, Ya Allah thank you for bringing me back home safely. Ya Muhaymin, All praises be to you for protecting my friends and I,” I made a silent dua while walking from the bus stop to my apartment.

Suddenly, I remembered that I needed to go to the Bureau de Change to exchange the Dollars to Turkish Lira.

“Sorry we can’t accept this money. It’s too old.” I had been to five different Bureau de Change and they all said the same thing.

“But I withdrew the money from the ATM” I protested.

“Then maybe you can exchange it in the bank” the young lady suggested.

I was beginning to lose my patience, my eyes were filled to the brim with tears. I tried my best to put on a strong face. Ya Allah, The Disposer of all Affairs, The Provider, please come to my aid.

I had to walk for an extra 30 minutes before I reached the bank. While walking, I felt as though something was off. Many people kept staring at me and whispering to each other. Since they were speaking a foreign language, it was hard to decipher what was being said.

Really? Now people are gossiping about me! I inserted my headphones pretending to be oblivious to all the stares, not until I heard someone say, “How can she wear that in this hot weather?”

Yeah right, my Hijab! “I know its summer and all you tourist are here to enjoy yourselves, but can you please mind your business”

I felt like shouting these words out loud but I had to restrain myself. The prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam taught us to be kind to people even when they are harsh to us, I cautioned mentally.

I looked around and noticed that many women were wearing shorts and even the Muslims girls were dressed in jeans and t-shirts with a headscarf on. No one was fully covered, wearing an Abaya and Khimaar like I was. It’s no wonder they stared so! I must look like something straight from Uranus!

My Hijab, My Pride! I smiled, recalling my most used phrase, my motto. I couldn’t be bothered by their stares even though it was quite disturbing. I would never trade my Hijab for anything in this world. Besides, “the life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception” So why should I let their stares bother me?

I finally got to the bank and they refused to exchange the money unless I showed them a receipt. Unfortunately, I had thrown away the receipt.

Qadarallahu wa mashaa Fa’al, I shrugged, I would just exchange the money when I get to Nigeria and give it out to charity.

I walked back to my apartment searching for something to eat but everywhere was empty. Looking at my empty fridge, I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring out. I stared at the fridge, crying for minutes until I finally decided to sleep. Just when I was about to lay down, I heard a knock on the door.

“Assalamu alaykum weird child, how was your trip?” It was my close friend Fatima.

“Wa alaykumus Salam, it was fine Alhamdulilah. I was just about to sleep, I am so tired and exhausted,” I replied. The last thing I needed at the moment was to be around anyone, but at the same time, I needed to be comforted by someone.

“Hmmm…Archi-Tortue kenan, your lecturers are always torturing you guys. No wonder people changed it from Architecture to ArchiTorture.” We both laughed at her attempt to tease me and crack a joke.

“Anyways I came to give you back the 100tl you borrowed me the other day. Jazakillahu Khairan,” She added.

100 Turkish Lira? “Allahu Akbar” I shouted at the top of my voice.

“Hope all is well. Why are you shouting like a mad person?”

“It’s because I am happy to see your face darling,” I said jokingly.

Later that night, after I finished my daily recitation, I sat down on my prayer mat reflecting on the events of that day. Remembering the unbearable weather, the unnerving words of the cashier, the annoying stares and the dejection I felt after coming from the bank. I was then reminded a certain verse in surah al-Baqara,

“And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient”

“The Struggle is real”; a slang commonly used among youths these days. Yes it was. As I prepared for the night, I prayed to always remember that “Verily with every hardship comes ease”, so as to never get tired of seeking the help of Allah through patience and prayer.

Excerpted from “the Diary of the Striving Muslimah”

Author: Salimah Bakare
Editor: Umm Naml

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